The encounters with the first Zionists
The Bible Society was here in Israel when the first Zionists arrived. Here are a few reports of the encounters of the Bible Society workers with them and their understandings of the Scriptures.
We will also see how anti-Zionists made Zionistic interpretations of the Scriptures…
1910 – „At Jaffa I entered the office of a Jewish merchant and offered the Scriptures for sale. 'No, we do not want your books,' said one. 'But it is the Word of God, your own book, and we all need it,' I said. 'We do not read our own book, and why should we read yours? All we want is to see our own people, the Jews, back in Palestine,' he replied. 'God will fulfil His own promises, but you will not hasten the fulfillment by refusing Him and neglecting His Word,' I answered. After much conversation with several Jews in this office I sold two Arabic Bibles, two French Bibles, one Turkish Bible, and the Psalms and some Portions in Hebrew”.
1921 – „The enthusiasm [of the Zionists] to revive Hebrew is astounding: many of the children know no other language”. The report notes that the revival of the language is followed by an increased demand for the Hebrew New Testament.
1922 – Report from the representative in Haifa: “The new arrivals in Palestine--the Zionist Haluzim (i.e. 'pioneers', 'forerunners')--are mostly idealists, who come with a wonderful longing and desire to re-build Zion. This spiritual longing they themselves cannot account for. I have talked to very many during my visits to the different labour-camps, where they are building the new highways of Palestine, and I find that they have open minds. The former hatred of Christianity seems no longer to exist. I once talked to a number of young Jews of the intelligentsia regarding Christ. Their expressions varied. Some claimed that 'He is the renewal of the ancient Prophets and the fulfillment of them all.' Others declared Him to be a 'Teacher, Prophet and Guide.’ Some went further, and claimed that 'the Jewish people committed the greatest mistake in their history by permitting their greatest Teacher to be crucified.' Others went further and confessed that they 'loved Him'. When I suggested that many thousands of them would perish in their attempts to rebuild Zion, one of them replied, 'Now what better thing could we have, even though we perish, than to die in the land where Jesus died?' That this was spoken publicly in the presence of many others shows the remarkable advance that they have made. When we are asked the question, 'Can these dry bones live?' we must answer, 'Lord, Thou knowest.' „
1924 – Report from the representative in Haifa: „Our chief work is amongst the young Zionist Halutzim (pioneers). They still continue to come at the rate of 1000 a month. Haifa is the chief port of entry, especially during the winter, as Jaffa is often unapproachable. We make it our business to meet them as they arrive and we say to them 'Peace be unto you and welcome in the name of the Lord.' Very often when they land they buy copies of the Scriptures. Our records prove that we have had perhaps one of the best years in the sales of Scriptures”
1931 – „in another place in Transjordan the people refused the Bibles. They said that they don’t believe in it since it is written that the Jews will take this land of Palestine”.
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